The Elephant Problem: Science, Bureaucracy, and Kenya’s National Parks, 1955 to 1975

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This article examines debates about how to manage elephants in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park as a jumping off point for exploring the relationships among the local, national, and global constituencies that converged in the formulation of wildlife policy in Kenya during the 1950s and 1960s. Bridging the colonial and postcolonial years, the so-called Elephant Problem in Tsavo, while leveraging different international constituencies, pitted different administrative philosophies against one another and drew out different understandings of the application of ecological sciences in national parks. The result was a paralysis of policymaking which sparked an overhaul of the wildlife departments in the 1970s.


Kenya; Colonialism; British Empire; Environmental History; East Africa; National Parks; Postcolonial

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